Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Flying with a toddler: what made us happy and what we would have done differently

We did it! We survived an intercontinental flight with a toddler lap child!

Even though it wasn't my favorite part of our holiday, 
(duh, long haul flights never are, are they?) 
I am so proud of how Micha behaved during the flights.
Looking back, there was no need for all the anxiety I had prior to our trip.

Of course not everything went perfectly, having a lap child while pregnant isn't always so comfortable (luckily for me B. held Micha most of the time).
And there were a few breakdowns (luckily with no screaming or continuous crying),
but all in all I'm pretty happy with our flying experience.


What made us happy:

- Getting a free, extra seat for Micha (yay!) on our flight to Toronto, which was a daytime flight.
With hardly no sleeping happening it was good to have some extra wiggle room.
On the way back we didn't get the same luxury, but because it was an evening flight we were lucky enough to have a sleeping Micha for at least three hours of the seven hour long haul flight.

- Small toys, like cars and plastic dinosaurs.
Before our flight I bought a whole bunch of little toys to put in Micha's backpack for the trip.
He especially loved the dinosaurs, they kept him (and us) happy for quite a while.

-A few of his favorite books, which we brought along. Including this one.
Whenever he would get restless we'd grab a book and start reading. Problem solved!

- In-flight entertainment.
We don't own an i-Pad, which I thought would be nice for M. to watch shows on, but I didn't miss it at all. The in-flight entertainment on Austrian Airlines (the airline we flew with) for kids was pretty good, 
Micha has never had so much screen time.
Anything to keep him happy!

- A soother.
M. usually only gets his soother at bedtime and I always think that a toddler walking around with a soother looks absolutely ridiculous, but for our trip we made an exception.
And I'm so glad we did.
I had packed suckers and made sure we had his sippy cup on hand during take off and landing to help relieve his popping ears, but the air pressure didn't seem to bother him at all because of the soother.
Also, it kept him calm and happy during the flight, which is a win in my books!

- A no-spill snack cup, like this one.
On the way there we just used a little container filled with cheerios or raisins, but I felt so sorry for the clean up crew, there was so much spilling!
So when we arrived in Canada, I went out and bought a no spill snack cup, and it was perfect for our flight back. Hardly no spilling, and it kept Micha entertained for a while.

- Snacks like these crackers and cheerios or dried fruit 'candy'.
Even I enjoyed munching on them when I felt hungry.

- Fruit pouches!
I'm so happy we were allowed to bring these through security*, they are Micha's favorite thing in the world and healthy too. Whenever he was hungry or if we needed to cheer him up we would hand him one of these and all would be well with the world.
 (*I was actually surprised how easy going they were with snacks and drinks for Micha, everything I brought along was accepted, only, why the longs faces and grouchy attitudes, security people?)

- Fresh fruit for mama and papa.
For on the way there I had packed baby carrots, cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices,
which we hardly ate, because what we were really craving after so many hours on the plane was fresh fruit.
So on the way back we picked up some fresh fruit cups at Starbucks and it was the nicest snack to have.

- Our light weight stroller.
I'm so glad we decided to take our stroller along, we could just strap Micha in and navigate our way through the airports to the gates. Because it was so light we could take the stroller all the way to the plane and let them stow it.

- A 'misbehaving' child somewhere else on the plane.
I know, how awful is that to have in my list of happy things?
But to be honest, it was nice to know that we weren't the only ones with a (not always happy) child on the plane, and even nicer that our child was more enjoyable for our fellow passengers than the other child was.
So evil of me, hey?

ready to board!

the men keeping themselves entertained

What we would have done differently:

- Less snacks.
I had no idea if Micha would be getting a meal on the plane, because he was a lap child.
So I packed a crazy amount of food -which surprisingly all made it through security- which we hardly ate at all. Turned out that Micha did get a meal and that the things I had packed were not the things we were craving.

- No books for me.
For the flight to Canada I had packed a book in my carry-on luggage, but I never got around to reading it.
It was just extra weight for me to carry along and unnecessary.

- If money wasn't an issue, no unnecessary layovers.
Budget-wise booking a non-direct flight was better for us. But if we have the money next time we'll be booking direct flights. I thought it would be nice to be able to stretch our legs during the layovers, but I would rather have a shorter travel time.

- Letting Micha nap on our first short flight to Vienna.
We traveled from Amsterdam to Vienna and via Vienna to Toronto (no logic in that, by the way!), and right at the end of that short two hour flight Micha fell asleep for about 30 minutes.
At the time we thought it was perfect, but it ended up meaning: no more naps for the rest of the trip to Canada. It would've been better if we had kept him awake, so that he could have a nice, long, uninterrupted nap during the long flight like he did on our way back home.

- Letting the air pressure build up in the sippy cup!
On our first flight, I accidentally sprayed a fellow passenger with apple juice, oops!
Luckily he didn't seem to notice!
I had no idea juice would be squirting out of M.'s sippy cup because of the air pressure, so after that incident I made sure to loosen the lid of his cup to make sure there was no pressure building up inside.


So there you have it! Our experience with flying with a toddler. 
I still wouldn't count it as my favorite thing to do, but it definitely wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

Next time we'll be flying with two kiddo's. 
Now that will be a challenge!

Love, Maria 

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